500 Days of Summer: A Deconstruction of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl

Intro by Maria

In this episode, Brandon and I discuss the 2009 film 500 Days of Summer. Here’s what that movie is about: Tom, a young guy who is obsessed with falling in love, “falls in love” (and I’m doing air quotes) with Summer. The film follows the 500 days of Tom being “in love”—again, air quotes—with Summer. 

During that time, Tom wants nothing more than a true relationship with Summer, even though Summer from the start tells him she doesn’t want a relationship. When they break up, Tom is in shambles, especially after he finds out Summer is engaged and getting married. Coming from someone who clearly stated she was NOT interested in relationships, this is shocking for Tom, and he basically becomes one of those whiny little boys who doesn’t understand how he, a nice boy, didn’t eventually get the girl. As if that’s the only thing that counts.

Listen, the movie isn’t entirely horrible. There are bits of truth in there about relationships, and Brandon and I can relate to a lot of the things shown in this film, especially the link between identity and the type of music or films you enjoy.

However, this movie also has something in it that is annoying, and that’s the manic pixie dream girl. If you don’t know, the manic pixie dream girl, or MPDG, mepejdg, is a female character that only exists to further a man in some way, whether that is by teaching him about life or saving him from his wretched manly self.

During the episode we talk a lot about this and the movie, so I’m not going to give it all away now. You’ll just have to stay tuned to this next episode of Peculiar Picture Show.

Show Summary

General: A hipster film exposing nice guys

Brandon: Not first time seeing this, but this movie is “right up my alley”; hipster film; main characters are real musicians

Maria: Movie not on our list–decided to continue this “nice guy” movie idea; not first time seeing this

Like: Strangely relatable with a great indie soundtrack

Brandon: Hipster aspects; identity in music; relatable on numerous levels; points out the hypocrisy of feminist hipster men; the way the story was told and artistic choices

Maria: Indie music cred; unconventional storytelling; some truth in attraction and love here; entertaining flick

Dislike: A passive female protagonist and a cliche ending

Brandon: Wanted Summer to stand up for herself more; a lot of stories about guys like Tom

Maria: Ending 

Mental Health: Manic Pixie Dream Girls are male fantasy fiction

Brandon: So-called feminist men who are actually horrible; problems with being an ally and associating that with identity (for some); Tom benefited from a culture that oppresses women even though he calls himself an ally 

Maria: Manic pixie dream girl (MPDG)


Maria: All of the movies about women being obsessed with men make women out to be serial killers. They don’t ever get the “you were right! You should have boiled my rabbit!” speech. They’re just crazy.

Next Movie

Inglourious Basterds (2009) vs. Rachel Getting Married (2008)

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